BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Domestic violence is a significant global problem and one of the most widespread human rights difficulties, particularly in most African communities where issues involving partner abuse are typically viewed as hidden phenomena (Izugbara et al., 2008). While some intimate relationships can be joyful and rewarding, others can be characterized by assaultive and coercive behaviors such as physical, sexual, and psychological assaults, as well as economic coercion, all of which are harmful to the individual’s physical and mental well-being (Domestic Violence Facts, 2007; Adebayo and Kolawole, 2013).
Domestic violence is typically committed by those who are married, cohabiting, or in same-sex relationships (UNICEF, 2006). Despite previous studies confirming the prevalence of under-reported cases of domestic violence (Durose et al., 2005; Saidi et al., 2008; Olabode and Abayomi, 2013; Adebayo and Kolawole, 2013), a global report identified one in every five women as having been subjected to some form of violent attack (WHO, 2005). Domestic abuse affects more than 65% of educated women and 55% of low-income women in Nigeria (Abayomi, 2013). More crucially, research have revealed that persons who witness subsequent domestic violence frequently experience stress, shame, anxiety, and despair, or what sociologists refer to as a “cradle of violence” (Gelles and Straus, 1988) or a “haven in a cruel world” (Lasch,1977). As previously recorded, approximately 275 million children worldwide were claimed to have observed and so been exposed to domestic abuse (UNICEF, 2006). Similarly, according to a research conducted in the United States, over 15.5 million children are believed to be living in families where there is domestic violence (Mc Donald et. al., 2006). Furthermore, it has been stated that children from families with ongoing marital disputes are more likely to have issues with personality adjustment or anomalies (Carlson, 2000; Abayomi, 2013) and are prone to a variety of short and long term physical, mental, and sexual effects (Carlson, 2000; Borgat et. al., 2006; Aihie, 2009; Abayomi and Olabode, 2013).
Conversely, there is frightening news about domestic violence all throughout Nigerian society. If it isn’t about the expanding trend of “baby making factories” dotting Nigeria’s nooks and crannies, it may be about a husband killing his wife or a lady killing her husband. Sometimes it’s about a parent sexually assaulting his daughter. Nigerian women are tortured, raped, and even murdered by members of their own family for alleged transgressions ranging from failing to prepare meals on time to visiting family members without their husband’s consent. Rare women have even been subjected to acid assaults by their husbands or partners, resulting in severe agony or deformity and, in some cases, death. Domestic violence affects all socioeconomic groups and can include physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and psychological abuse (America Psychiatric Association 2005, p. 1; Oifig a Tánaiste, 1997). Although males can be victims of domestic violence (Denis 2014), women and children are the most affected.
Importantly, the widespread culture of secrecy and stigmatization of domestic abuse victims impedes public recognition of the problem. There is an urgent need to fight Nigerian society’s societal preconceptions and institutional institutions in order to safeguard women not just from harm, but also from scorn, dread, and isolation. The Nigerian government, as well as Nigerian Christians, must rise to the occasion and find solutions to the domestic violence crisis. Historically, authorities have been hesitant to engage in domestic abuse occurrences, preferring to treat the family as a private area. Wife battering is incorrectly seen as a “private affair” of the household. Wife beating is deemed “culturally” acceptable; it is regarded as a “normal way of life” and even as a “symbol of affection” (Nwankwo, 2003). Domestic abuse is seen in some African communities as a private matter between spouses that does not necessitate legal involvement. Women continue to suffer in silence, often accepting domestic abuse in their relationships as a natural part of their fate (Curran and Bonthuys, 2004). It’s awful that such ladies have to accept this harshness as their fate. Domestic violence is generally a purposeful deed, not a mistake or an act of the devil, according to these criteria.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Domestic violence is defined as the purposeful and chronic abuse of anybody in the house, resulting in pain, distress, or harm. It is ubiquitous throughout Nigeria and “wears various faces.” It is characterized by disdain and powerlessness, and it pervades women’s life. It constitutes a violation of human rights (Nwankwo, 2003). It refers to any harsh treatment of a family member by another, which violates basic human rights law. It involves assaulting intimate partners and others, sexual abuse of children, marital rape, and damaging cultural behaviors to women (Ahiie, 2009). This has been found to be particularly true for young people who witnessed domestic violence (Abraham and Jewkes; Gupta et al., 2008).
Studies have found that such children often develop some levels of emotional and behavioural problems which may include adolescence delinquency and feelings of insecurity as they grow up (Alexandra, 2005; Stanley, 2011). While previous literature on family and domestic violence have centered focus on the devastating effects of domestic violence on women and the manner in which violence is perpetrated among married and cohabiting couple, little is known about the effect of the violent acts on the witnesses especially the children of such families most especially the girl child. In Nigeria, studies on domestic or intimate partners violence and its effects on girl child witnessing it has hardly been established. Therefore, is against this backdrop the present study examines the effects of domestic violence on girl child growing up within the family setting.
The broad objective of the study is to determine the impact of domestic violence on the girl child. Specifically the research objective are:
i. To determine what the sampled girl children understands about domestic violence.
ii. To know whether they have experienced or witnessed any form of domestic violence.
iii. To investigate how such experiences of violence shaped the various aspects of their lives.
iv. To ascertain ways through which domestic violence against girl child can be curbed.
The research questions raised for this study are:
i. What is the perspective of girl children on domestic violence?
ii. What are the form of domestic violence girl children face in Nigeria.
iii. How has domestic violence shaped the various aspects of the lives of girl children?
iv. What are the ways through which domestic violence against girl child can be curbed?
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study on completion will provide relevant information effects of domestic violence on girl child growing up within the family setting to policy makers and organizations interested in the welfare of children.The findings may form a basis upon which recommendations may be made to parents and care givers on ways through which they can reduce domestic violence they dish to girls. Finally This study will also contribute to academic knowledge and serve as a foundation upon which further research can be made and serve as a reference material to other student and scholars that wishes to carry out similar research on the above topic.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study looks at the impact of domestic violence on girl child using Tiv local government in Benue State as case study. The study covers in-school and out-of school girl children in this area.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering in-school and out-of school girl children within Tiv local government in Benue State. Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other other States within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Finally, respondent could not return all the questionnaires distributed to the researcher and this has only made the researcher to only work with the ones that got to him. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.